Saturday, 31 October 2009

Good time versus - accountability

Some baboons we encountered near Victoria Falls - this little chap must have been very young but he seemed quite confident and was not bothered by our presence.

Check out the Spock ears!
His Dad was more suspicious so we didn't hang around for a chat!

After Vic Falls we returned to Kasane and the next day went on a sunset river cruise on the Chobe River. It was beautiful. So scenic and the animals and birdlife was truly spectacular. Below is an African Darter bird which is also known as a Snake Bird because, in the water, its long neck can look like a snake.

Here is the same bird swallowing a fish whole!

It seems as though you have a choice - you can be strict and virtuous and watch every mouthful in which case, if you're lucky and the heavens are aligned, you might lose a few lbs or you can enjoy life, forget about the "rules" for a bit and live in fear of those few lbs creeping back on.

I've been avoiding accountability for the last few days and I know it's not a clever thing to do. But I am enjoying life, keeping up with the exercise and I'm not going mad with food. So, no guilt or anything but I'm not going to let it slide any longer. It's not worth the risk.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to get on the scales first thing. As Mrs L used to say - "knowledge is power". That phrase has always stuck with me and has helped me get on the scales so many times. I'm not too worried but I know that this is the sort of danger time for me which in the past would have lead to "The Fog" but I'm not going to fall into that trap this time.

In other news - I took a couple of days off work last week and really enjoyed them. The garden has had its autumn "putting to bed" treatment and looks much neater and D and I went for a lovely long walk yesterday. Tonight we're off to a Halloween fancy dress party at my local and I'm dressing up. Usually this would be cause for great angst - what costume can I possibly find to fit etc etc?!

This year it was different - I just wandered into a party shop and bought a cheap and nasty looking packaged costume without trying it on and it did fit! Amazing. I look truly terrible in it but that's sort of the point.....much make-up will be worn and a silly hat and probably a few goblets of dragons' blood (aka red wine) will be spilt (down my throat).

Looking forward to it...there may be photos....we'll see....

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Much better

He's right!! You can choose to be happy - or at least substantially happier. I was very hard-nosed about it, and positive (and I had a couple of glasses of red wine too) but the upshot is that I got through my sad/bad mood and the grumpiness of the last few days and feel much better now.

I also went for a cracking mountain bike ride this morning! A short sharp blast up some serious hills for about 90 minutes and now I feel pleasantly sore but very virtuous!

The other thing that helped me get through last night was deciding to do something "good"! Sounds a bit weirdy beardy I know but I thought if I could do something nice and positive for someone or something else, it might rub off on me. So, I bought my sister and her husband their Christmas present - a goat and a pig from the Care International charity gift range. Now my sister and her husband may not be very impressed - they may prefer the usual jumper and Jeremy Clarkson tome but that is by the by - this charity gift was all about cheering ME up!!

Not sure I've quite got the right 'tude but it works for ME and that's all that matters....tee hee

Friday, 23 October 2009


What to do....

I feel terribly upset right now. I'm trying to channel Steve Peters and "choose" my emotions. I went swimming at lunchtime to get the endorphins rushing in. I'm trying to understand, reflect and just generally not react but it's an uphill battle. I still feel flat, unmotivated, small and hurt.

But one good thing is - I'm not eating my way through it.

So - I'm going to try again - and CHOOSE not to be upset. CHOOSE to be happy tonight. Smile.

I'll let you know I get on.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Mother of God! I know I shouldn't blaspheme but I've just finished a Body Max class with a substitute instructor and he killed us!!

Perhaps I had better start developing a new exercise hoodoo

Just going to hobble off to the shower now. Wish me luck, I may get there in the next 10 minutes if I'm lucky.....

Monday, 19 October 2009

Exorcising exercise demons

The Devil's Chute, which is part of Victoria Falls. we visited the Zimbabwe side of the Falls. Spectacular, even in the dry season with low (!) water levels.

These guys were walking over the river on the Zambian side of the river - what were they up to we wondered?

Then they jumped in! Right on the edge of a 110 metre drop!!

Dr Livingstone I presume...

We went on a helicopter ride over the Falls with a german couple from our hotel. They had been very annoying, changing arrangements without consulting us, picking where we ate, cutting short our time at the market, just generally bossing us around. D was therefore very pleased to take the opportunity of bribing a guy from the helicopter company so that I got the front seat of the helicopter!! The woman virtually pushed me out of the way to get to the chopper first so Diarmuid said it was fantastic to see her face when the guy picked me out and shoved me in the front seat ahead of her!!! Worth it for the pics and the view I think!!

Note the smug smile!!

Hi all. Hope you had a good weekend. I was busy and quiet in equal measures. Saturday was a mad rush - I had a haircut at 8.45am and didn't stop after that - shopping, walking dogs, cleaning house, going to the football, meeting up with Jim's work colleagues for supper, Michael McIntyre gig, back home, pick up dogs and sleeeeeep!! Still, it was good to be busy. The football was excellent, they reversed a trend by actually winning a home game and Michael McIntyre was good value too. I do not know how anyone can stand up in front of 12,000 people with the express intention of making them laugh! He managed it too.

Sunday though was much quieter. I felt guilty about leaving the dogs at the farm all day on Saturday so, rather than heading out into the hills on my mountain bike as I really wanted to do, I took them for an old-fashioned walk instead. It was great - a little bit of sunshine and blue sky but crisp and clear. Plenty of autumn colours for me and my camera and my little companions in doggy heaven. I was determined to get some good exercise despite not biking so we headed up Win Hill. It's about an hour of solid climbing and then another 90 minutes or more of mixed downhill and flat. The views were gorgeous and it reminded how lucky I am to have all this on my doorstep.

All of which led me to think about how me and my chimp are getting on......

When I was planning my walk I had found myself leafing through loads of walk books trying to pick the perfect route and, to be honest, was using the walk selection as displacement activity for actually going out on the walk itself! I'm pretty certain my chimp was trying to distract me from starting the walk by making the choice too difficult. I was getting disheartened and beginning to beat myself up about starting too late etc etc

Suddenly I picked up what was happening and thought "this is rubbish - there is a great big hill right outside my door, who cares whether or not I've walked that route loads of times before? The sun is shining and the dogs are desperate - just get out there and walk you silly mare!". So I chucked on a fleece, grabbed my camera and the dogs and walked out the door.

It was lovely, I realised that I hadn't been up Win Hill for a long time anyway and certainly not in autumn colours. So, why try and be perfect when good enough is right there?

I've broken the back of a couple of exercise hoodos recently. For some reason, I had decided that I can't bear swimming (despite previously being a very good swimmer!). My chimp had been very inventive and come up with all sorts of reasons: I need to work harder so can't take that long a lunch hour - this despite the fact that I frequently spend my full lunch hour reading or surfing! I'll have wet hair and get cold - who cares! I've never worried about my hair and make-up at work so why start now? The changing rooms are smelly and unpleasant and I have to drive there - well, true but not anymore! The Council (for whom I work so I'll take full credit) has just opened a spanking new smart pool just 5 minutes walk from my office which is neither smelly or unpleasant. The changing rooms are unisex which takes a bit of getting used to but they're fine!

So, I've managed to make myself go swimming during lunch 6 times now within the last 3 weeks! One of the key factors in encouraging to go in the first place was something the TV programme taught me. Steve said to break tasks down into less threatening chunks if you (or more accurately your chimp) is experiencing resistance to doing it. So, I struck a bargain with her that we were going to go swimming once, to see if it was okay. We only had to do 20 lengths and if we hated it we'd never need to do it again. This was the deal. Of course, I did 40 lengths and didn't hate it. My chimp is now fully on board as she realises that it's relaxing, gets me out of the office at lunchtime and frees up the evening giving her more time to work on me to eat stuff!! Sigh....truly every silver lining does have a cloud after all....
I've built up my distances, increasing the number of lengths by 2 each time and am now up to 50 which is 1.25km in about 25-30 minutes. I think I'll stick at that for a couple of weeks and then start to increase up to 64 (just over a mile) but that is going to have to be my limit for time reasons!

The other hoodoo was going to the gym. I had built up such resistance to the idea that I had actually convinced myself that I had cancelled my membership earlier in the summer!! Now that the wattbike has been removed from us by Sky and the evenings are getting dark, I was casting around for another evening exercise. I thought of the gym and just checked whether I could reinstate, only to find out that I had NOT cancelled. So that's 5 months at £33 per month totally wasted!! So, the annoyance of that little discovery sent me back into the dreaded gym.
Once again, though, I started slowly - a Body Max class and deliberately used lighter weights than I thought I could handle. Of course, by the end of the class I had hardly broken sweat and was already planning which weights to use for my next trip. The gym owner (it's a small place!!) also collared me and virtually shanghaied me into making an appointment for an induction/programme!

That was tonight and I'm pleased to report that I've not experiencing any resistance to going and indeed went an hour early in order to fit in a class beforehand.

So - manage your chimp, work with her and don't scare her off by expecting too much of yourself or doing too much too soon. if you do that she will dig her heels in and probably win. If you make it manageable and non-threatening, she'll come round and start to help you achieve your aims once she feels happy and comfortable (but not too comfortable!).

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Me and my monkey...

We had a long dusty drive up to Kasane on a badly potholed road - we had to stop accasionally though to record giant termite mounds - D was unimpressed by my climbing - "If they swarm out and bite you and I have to drive to hospital, I won't be happy!!"

D chilling in the pool while I did laps - my first chance to exercise in 5 days!

A fellow guest at the lodge.

Sunset on the River Chobe at the bottom of the lodge garden

I don't know what most of them are but I like snapping flowers as they really remind me of different places - they're more evocative than other scenes I find.

Well, I'm not doing badly but I'm not doing very well either. I still feel differently towards food, more in control and less likely to want want want nameless foods just for the sake of it. BUT, I'm also conscious that I haven't made much real progress since filming finished at the end of July.

Stats: (on new scales so there might be some inconsistencies from prior posts but I've decided to go with these now)

I weighed 13.5 at the end of July.
I gradually got down to 12.12
I gained initially 4 but actually 5 lbs while on holiday
I've lost 3lbs of those so am now 13.1

Objectively, 4 lbs is a very small overall loss over a period of 2.5 months. Now, I'm not beating myself up for this because I'm happy to be losing slowly and carefully and keeping the weight off. But it is also important for me to keep on losing weight as well and not be side-tracked by my chimp into accepting less than I can achieve. And I think that's what has been happening.

For example, I used to be happy with a breakfast of muesli and fruit or yoghurt and fruit but recently I've been adding a small slice of toast; I've taken to buying a McDonalds cappucino on my drive in to work; I've added a biscuit to my lunch; I have the odd glass of red wine in the pub; and I occasionally add a carb-y type snack in the evenings. Individually and occasionally, none of these additions are particularly noteworthy but as they have become part of my routine they collectively can add up to an extra 500 calories per day!! That is outrageous!!

I've known in a vague, unquantified manner that these extras are not a good idea but it is only as I type it now that I realise what I have done. My chimp has snuck these extras in gradually and sneakily and can justify each addition when it happens. What she cannot justify is the fact that the occasional justifiable extra has become a habitual part of my diet. And strangely, it coincides with my stopping losing weight. Well dur...

So - harden up Lesley and cut out the extras.

Phew - it's tough!

Exercise-wise I'm really happy with my routine. I do personal training twice a week; swimming twice (but am going to try for 3x) a week; a long mountain bike session most weekends; and either a run, long walk or gym session once or twice a week. So that comes to 6 or 7 sessions per week and there is talk of dance classes to come.

The mountain biking is brilliant - I'm really beginning to get the bug. My friend Vicky bought a bike a couple of weeks ago and we're about the same level so I've got a pal to play with. She is happy as her husband is super-fit, super-brave at mountain biking and they would both find it frustrating going out together all the time.

On Sunday afternoon we did our first proper technical ride up Win Hill. It was brilliant - we had to push up one section (which I've since found out is called "the Beast"!) but then it was a series of muddy, rocky tracks, steep climbs, scary downhills and breath-taking views. We were both giddy about how much fun we were having and took pics whenever we could actually stop. If anyone had heard me as I was on some of the downhills they would have laughed - it was a constant stream of whimpering, swearing, giggling and just generally exhorting myself onward. I must have sounded mad!

So, as ever, there is good and bad but mostly good.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lesley Q & A

Right, I've worked it out - if I don't up the numbers of pics per blog, I'll still be showing Botswana photos by Christmas!

The beautiful safari camp of Meno A Kwena which means "teeth of the crocodile"! It was just a stopover for us but what a gorgeous relaxing one it proved to be. Set on a cliff overlooking a normally dry riverbed with 2 pumped waterholes we were lucky enough to see the Boteti River flowing for the first time in 25 years! Stunning. We just whiled away the afternoon and evening by the little eco-plunge pool opverlooking the river, watching the animal come down to drink and play. Bliss.
One of our fellow guests by the pool.
The main tent where we had our meals and the boma (campfire) where we sat out in the evening with our fellow guests and discussed how lucky we all were...
Me in the pool overlooking the river.

The eco-friendly ablutions at our tent. Everything was designed to leave a minimal impact on the environment and it was all removable - just fancy tents really.

A giant bee in the Kalahari Apple tree (I didn't see any apples!)

Zebra coming down to drink - they were quite nervous as there are loads of lions in this area so it was one first and the rest following and plenty of lookouts!
We heard a lion roar at the riverbank in the middle of the night. I have never heard anything like it!! So loud. God - we were only in a tent - if it hadn't been on the other side of the river I would have been terrified and I don't scare easily! D waching the zebra and enjoying his Castle lager.

The first elephant comes down for an evening mudbath.

Another fellow guest - a francolin grouse.

He then joins his pal for a swim. Apparently this has become an evening tradition over the last few weeks. They swam and larked around for about an hour! They dived right under the water and played with each other - it was like watching teenage boys mucking around in the pool on holiday!

Then it was back to our tent for the sunset (shared with this ground squirrel) before dinner.

African sunsets were just gorgeous - so peaceful and eternal looking. Nothing in the way, somehow.

Shauna pointed out that there is a Q & A with me on the Sky Real Lives website. I answered these questions a while ago and thought they were just for journos' consumption so thanks Shauna for finding them for me. It has saved me thinking about what to say tonight!